Yes and yes. How you feel the pain depends on what you're trying to do. If you archived legacy data in the wrong format, or in a format that's no longer/well supported, you'll feel a lot of pain. CATIA V4 users have been dealing with a recent version of this (although it's not as old as most real legacy data). Imagine how tough it will be to use CATIA V4 files in 20 years!! Designers can't even use them in CATIA V5 now. So this is more of a "re-use" issue, also directly a propo of your question. They feel big pain when trying to make changes or updates to a CAD file. This stuff bites people throughout the product lifecycle. As product data leaves design/engineering, different types of problems appear, like incomplete data, poor precision, holes, gaps, etc. for manufacturing, etc. It all translates in the end to cost, which is why it's a business problem, not just a bunch of geeks complaining about a less-than-perfect world. Managers need to realize the problem sounds like technie-talk, but it translates DIRECTLY into deigners/engineers wasting time that could be spent making better products - many, many hours per week of each highly paid designers time, through the whole organization. I get a kick when I walk through design teams with the manager, and they think their people are getting work done, as I see them rotating CAD files around, zooming in, editing a surface or curve, etc. What managers often don't know is that about 50% of the time these highly paid professionals are spending in these tasks is NOT VALUE ADDED WORK. They are fixing mistakes and problems that are keeping them from value-added work. Much of this can be remedied by training and standardizing CAD design practices, but these solutions seems too fuzzy for management to invest in, so they just let it go on, assuming it's all coming out of someone else's budget.
There are a few new modeling constructs that users could benefit from that were't previously in ACIS, but it's more of an infrastructure improvement. Users should see improvements in 3D modeling in general, especially reliability and integrity of more complex surface models. This is because capabilities like tolerant modeling are now built into the kernel, enabling modeling operations to vary and even improve precision in models, if possible, better than they were originally. Designers may not see this directly, but should notice it in model scalability and fewer interoperability problems. Also, modeling should be faster, and can handle larger models, which makes sense considering the other changes they've made.
The problem is multi-faceted and you correctly identified two of the biggies. It's my understanding that the CAD interoperability challenge has gotten far more complex given the global and distributed nature of product development teams and the realization that large OEMs (automotive companies, aerospace vendors, etc.) can't really dictate an extended supply chain use a single CAD tool. Plus, there have been so many aquisitions and consolidation among the CAD vendors themselves, that even the tools from any one of the leading vendors have mutliple personalities and geometry kernels, hence making the matter all the more challenging.
I'd love your perspectives, David and Beth, on the real-world impact of interoperability issues on CAD users in the field. Is it mostly affecting attempts to use legacy files when one goes in and does eng changes or upgrades a product. Or is it more serious in terms of its implications on the ability to use end-to-end tool chains?
Nice post, David, and good insight into how this new release might ease the interoperability problems that continue to plague MCAD users. I'm wondering if the new modeler has any ramifications beyond interoperability--for example, are there any new capabilities that can be exploited to deliver advanced functionality to design engineers?
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